If you want to watch a scary thing in the water that wants to eat you, check out Crawl. But, if you prefer sharks over alligators, and truth over fiction, you may want to surf Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable. Would you get back in the water if a shark took your arm at age 13? Would you even shower? Like Free Solo, you wonder why they do it. This documentary shows surfers surviving 50’-60’ waves, and it looks crazy. What kind of strength does it take to maintain balance with only one arm? I give this movie 3.5 Gavels and it receives a 75% Rotten Tomatoes rating with no Audience score as of this writing.
From a young age Bethany was a champion destined to be a pro. Then, the unthinkable happens. With little self-doubt, she gets back on the board and becomes a media sensation. With a book and a movie ahead, she has little time to practice. Later, marriage and a baby intervene. Will she ever again be able to compete against the world’s best?
From an overwhelmed teen in the spotlight, Bethany Hamilton matures in front of our eyes. She refuses an ESPY award because they sought to cast her as Best Female Athlete: Disabled. To this day, she disdains that moniker. Surfing while quite visibly pregnant, she remarks that she is smoother than ever. Such an inspiration, her competitors root for her.
Many of you saw Soul Surfer in 2013. That film focused on the attack and the return to the water. Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable provides action from age 2 to today. Following her around the world for competitions, and to catch the perfect wave, yields some fabulous photography. In truth, the flick is still 15 minutes too long. Yet, her courage, faith, and determination are something to behold. For the critic who complains that the film “lacks conflict,” this is “woman vs nature.” The photographer does not shy away from showing blood on some of the wipe-outs. Bethany Hamilton is determined to live life without limits. May the surf always be up for Bethany!